by John Matson, English Teacher

You wake up in the middle of a night
after a day during which you could hardly wait
to stop hearing the sound of your own voice—
talking so feeble and fake and futile
that you don’t even remember it,
much less feel any remorse for it,
or release from it.
You didn’t say anything wrong,
but you didn’t say anything right, either.
You worry about talking yourself into a deeper hole,
since, to make matters worse,
you feel like you have to talk
to someone about all your idle talk.

You then remember a way
to make all this right: you write.
You put your confession of pointless prolixity
away in the kindest of coffins,
a shut up talking book that no one
need ever hear, least of all you—
a mute memorandum, an aspiring antiquity,
most precious when it is finally buried,
once and for all; to be excavated
only in the case of a catastrophe—
a quaking of the heavens or the earth;
a sudden need to show and thus soothe
some born again blight—
that binds us to the work of unsealing it.

What can writing cure?

The wound that comes
from taking things too personally;
then the scar that grows over this wound—
the scar: the mark of lost power
to take things personally enough.
The love letter:
not the one that asks for something,
but confesses something, rather,
and no longer hopes for personal benefit,
but rather a public good
and glory which,
however satisfying to the self,
is nothing you can take to the bank.

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